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  The Battles of Antiochus the Great The Failure of Combined Arms at Magnesia That Handed the World to Rome by Graham Wrightson  Antiochus I...

The Battles of Antiochus the Great by Graham Wrightson The Battles of Antiochus the Great by Graham Wrightson

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Pen & Sword




 The Battles of Antiochus the Great


The Failure of Combined Arms at Magnesia That Handed the World to Rome


by


Graham Wrightson




 Antiochus III, or the Great, was a ruler of the Seleucid kingdom from 223 to 187 BCE. He ascended the throne at eighteen years of age after the assassination of his brother Seleuces III. His throne was not secure by any means. The provinces in the east had left the empire a few decades before. He was also faced with a revolt by the satraps of Mesopotamia, Medea and Persia. The Ptolemies had almost crushed the Seleucid kingdom a few years before. Syria was also lost to the Ptolemies at the time of his ascension to the crown.  The author informs us of all of the history written above at the start of the book. He also goes into the state of the nations around the Seleucid kingdom so that we readers know exactly where the Hellenistic world, and beyond, stand at this time.


 The book describes itself thusly:

"The author analyses Antiochus' major battles, Raphia, Arius, Panium, Thermopylae and, of course, the disaster at Magnesia which opened the door to Roman dominance of the region."


 The author's take on the militaries of the later Hellenistic kingdoms is that they had not learned the lesson of Alexander or the Diadochi very well at all. He extols that the militaries of the later kingdoms were just a pale comparison to the great armies that had conquered the Persian Empire and beyond. Not just because there was no longer an Alexander to lead them, but because they did not understand what made those armies invincible for their time. The book shows how the percentage of infantry to cavalry, approximately 3 to 1, had changed so that it was more than 10 to 1 by Antiochus' time. The main idea of the book is that these newer rulers did not understand the combined arms approach that was needed to win with a Hellenistic army. He uses the battle history of Antiochus to prove his point. In this the author easily succeeds.


 However, the book gives the reader much more than the above. He goes into the tactical uses of each of the parts of a Hellenistic army. The author shows us how to use a Hellenistic army and where Antiochus went wrong. Antiochus was a singular unlucky king. He ruled at a time when Rome was branching out to make the Mediterranean Sea a Roman lake. It did not help that one of the greatest Roman generals, Scipio Africanus, was present with the Roman forces. While he deserved his appellation 'Great' by reconquering all of the Seleucid territories in the east, Antiochus ensured the death of the Seleucid kingdom by his loss to Rome. This is a tour de force about the military history of Antiochus' reign. I can easily recommend the book to anyone who wants to learn about him and the militaries of the Hellenistic kingdoms. Thank you, Casemate Publishers for allowing me to review this excellent book on an era that hardly ever has some light shed on it.


Robert 

Book: The Battles of Antiochus the Great: The Failure of Combined Arms at Magnesia That Handed the World to Rome


Publisher: Pen & Sword

Distributor: Casemate Publishers

Bohemund of Taranto Crusader and Conqueror by Georgios Theotokis   This is a very informative book on not only the man himself, but also the...

Bohemond of Taranto: Crusader and Conqueror by Georgios Theotokis  Bohemond of Taranto: Crusader and Conqueror by Georgios Theotokis

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Pen & Sword



Bohemund of Taranto


Crusader and Conqueror


by


Georgios Theotokis 






 This is a very informative book on not only the man himself, but also the age he lived in. As far as the man, we do not have many books at all about him in any language. So, this volume is more than welcome.


 The book is filled with information that is not known to many. For example: his birth name was actually Mark. Because of his size at birth, he was given the sobriquet of 'Buamundus Gigas' the name (Gigas means giant) of a mythical giant whose story is lost in the ravages of time, according to the author. He was of Norman extraction (Normannorum being the Latin term for Northmen). Many of the later generations of Normans had sailed for the new and different world of Sicily and Southern Italy. His size had continued to grow apace of his contemporaries, so it was quite easy to pick him out in a medieval crowd. 


 The author goes into great detail of how the Normans ended up in these sunny Mediterranean lands. The book continues with Bohemond's family and how his famous father Robert Guiscard had divorced Bohemund's mother when he was just a child. Even though this made Bohemund technically a 'bastard' it does not seem to have lessened his worth at his father's court. 


 The largest part of the book is dedicated to his different dealings with and invasions of the Byzantine Empire. This may surprise some people because of the large role that he played in the First Crusade. You would think that the Byzantines would want him as far away as possible from their lands, instead of letting him march an army close to their capitol. The author describes in detail what happened during the First Crusade and how in the first years Bohemond's military astuteness was one of the main reasons that the crusaders were successful.


 Most of what we know about him was written down by a Byzantine princess named Anna Komnena. She was the first born of Alexios I Komnenos, the Byzantine Emperor. She does let her venom come through toward him at times. At other times it is plain that she begrudgingly admired him. 


 The author has done a fine job of showing the reader the life of this truly giant man. Thank you, Casemate Publishers, for letting me review this very informative book and shining the light on Bohemond's life. His life and adventures would match or surpass any of his Viking forebearers.


Robert

Book: Bohemond of Taranto: Crusader and Conqueror 

Author: Georgios Theotokis

Publisher : Pen & Sword

Distributor: Casemate Publishers

 Red Army Weapons Of the Second World War by Michael Green    This is a description of problems with a tank from the book: "The five-sp...

Red Army Weapons of the Second World War by Michael Green Red Army Weapons of the Second World War by Michael Green

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Pen & Sword




 Red Army Weapons


Of the Second World War


by


Michael Green





 

 This is a description of problems with a tank from the book:


"The five-speed transmission proved to be as unreliable as the four-speed transmission in the early production models. The old-fashioned transmission combined with an understrength clutch and braking steering system caused endless breakdowns of the tank. The tank therefore soon acquired a reputation as mechanically unreliable. Unfortunately, before the German invasion the Red Army failed to organize an adequate repair and support service infrastructure. As a result, the Red Army's repair and support services were not up to the task of recovering the KV-1."


 I tried to make it so you would think you were reading about the German Panther or Tiger tanks, which are always described as being 'mechanically unreliable". According to the author the KV-1 had just as much trouble as the German tanks did in the beginning, but in the KV-1's case the troubles were never fixed.


 This is a book that is a delight for modelers, history buffs, and people who are just interested in weaponry. It comes with over 200 black and white photos of pretty much every weapon that the Red Army used during World War II. It is absolutely filled with information that I have not seen elsewhere. For example, the PPSH-41 submachine gun (which was valued by both armies) was so poorly made that it was not easy to find a magazine that matched up with the actual gun. Tidbits like this abound in the book. The pictures of the Soviet tanks, both inside and out, are amazing in detail. You will understand exactly why some of the tanks were accused of having cramped quarters. According to the book, 300,000 out of 400,000 tankers ended up as casualties. Looking at some of the inside pictures I am bit amazed that anyone was able to make it out.


 The author has gone out of his way to show how each weapon had its own good and bad points. He also does not walk away from calling some of the weapons showed as complete failures. I do wish the author had gone into more depth on 'Stalin's Organs'. However, I totally understand that some weapons could not be as fully written about as others. 


 The book is roughly 250 pages long. In those pages I guarantee that every reader will find some new bit of information that they have never seen, or more than likely plenty of these bits. Thank you, Casemate Publishers, for allowing me to review this excellent book, which is almost a small encyclopedia of the Red Army's weaponry.


Robert

Book: Red Army Weapons of the Second World War

Author: Michael Green

Publisher: Pen & Sword

Distributor: Casemate Publishers  




  Monte Cassino A German View by Rudolf Bohmer   This is an older book that was published in German in 1956. This translation is exactly wha...

Monte Cassino: A German View by Rudolf Bohmer Monte Cassino: A German View by Rudolf Bohmer

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Pen & Sword




 Monte Cassino


A German View


by Rudolf Bohmer





  This is an older book that was published in German in 1956. This translation is exactly what a reader who is interested in the Italian Campaign and the Battle of Monte Cassino is looking for. Despite the name of the book, the author goes into the entire Italian Campaign from the invasion of Sicily to fighting for the heights of Monte Cassino. The author was actually a German officer during the campaign. So he has first hand knowledge of a lot of the battles for Italy. 


 He starts the book with the choices that the Allies had in 1943. Whether to attack Italy proper, Sicily, Corsica and Sardinia, or the Balkans. Churchill fought long and hard for an invasion of the Balkans, but the American brass would have none of it. The author shows how the Germans were confused by the tentativeness of the Allies, and how they helped the Germans repeatedly to fight the battle for Italy on their terms.


 Monte Cassino was one of the linchpins of the Germans' 'Gustav Line' of defense across the width of Italy. The tenacious German defense, and offensive at Salerno, allowed the Germans to build a series of defensive lines, each tougher than the last. 


 Even though he was a German officer, the author has nothing but praise for the individual Allied Units. In the Italian Campaign the Allies had a polyglot group of Units from across the globe. According the the writer, the French North African troops came very close to capturing Monte Cassino on their very first attack. Unfortunately, they had far outrun any of their supports on either flank. This meant that the battle became a hell on earth for the common soldier for the next few months. 


 The next part of the battle that he goes into is the very controversial, even at the time, Allied decision to bomb the monastery at the top of Monte Cassino. The author quotes scripture and verse about how the Germans helped the monks move everything valuable out of the monastery and turned it over to the Vatican. All this, in the middle of a battle. The truth of the Germans helping with the removal, and the fact that there were never any Germans inside the monastery until after the bombing, has been proved factual after the war. The bombing of the monastery was actually one of the few propaganda coups that the Western Allies handed the Germans during the war.


 This is for the reader who wants to know the intimate details of the Allied and German strategical choices and plans about the Italian campaign. If someone wants to read about the minute details of the tactical battle for Monte Cassino, this is also the book. The author has an uncanny way of moving from large overviews about the campaign to boots on the ground without skipping the proverbial beat. To refer this book to anyone interested in either parts of the campaign is a no-brainer. This is a very well written and detailed look at it. Thank you very much Casemate Publishers for letting me review it.


Robert

Book: Monte Cassino: A German View

Author: Rudolf Bohmer

Publisher: Pen & Sword

Distributor: Casemate Publishers

 







  God's Viking Harold Hardrada by Nic Fields  For an author to write about Haraldr Sigurðarson, normally called Harald Hardrada which me...

God's Viking Harald Hardrada the Last Great Viking by Nic Fields God's Viking Harald Hardrada the Last Great Viking by Nic Fields

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Pen & Sword





 God's Viking


Harold Hardrada


by


Nic Fields





 For an author to write about Haraldr Sigurðarson, normally called Harald Hardrada which means hard-counsel or hard-ruler, is a difficult task. Mostly what we know about him comes from Norse sagas. Therefore, it is hard to tell the truth from hyperbole. Dr. Nic Fields has given himself a very hard task to present us with the historical Harold. From the battle of Stiklestad in 1030, where Harald was only fifteen, to the battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, Harald blazed like a comet across the early Middle Ages sky. The chronicler Adam of Bremen called him the "Thunderbolt of the North". Let us take a look at what the author has given us.


 First, it is a large book, coming in at 366 pages. It is, however, not just a straight biography of Harald. His life is shown us throughout the pages, but the book brings a trove of many other things. The book is filled with the history of the Viking Age from the half-mythical Ragnar, to the death of the last real Viking Harald. The book also is packed with with facts about other parts of the age. It starts with a chapter named 'War', which shows exactly how Vikings fought, etc. The last chapter of the book, called 'He, her, hero, heroine' goes into the details of how Viking women shaped the age. The book is filled with various Norse kings and chieftains. It mentions Eiríkr Blóðøx (Eric Bloodaxe, a happy little sobriquet). The author describes him thus: "Norsemen were all warlike, but Eric Bloodaxe was a special case; he enjoyed homicide as a family activity". 


 The author also dispels some fallacies that we now take as gospel about events and people in the Viking Age. He shows that the 'Blood-Eagle' was just a literary license from the later writers of the sagas. Ivar the Boneless is also a victim of what the author calls "English literalism". In actual fact, the epithet 'boneless' is still used in Norway to describe a crafty, sly character, as in 'No bones, you can't hear him coming'. The Norse were well known for their tongue in cheek nicknames. They would use names like 'fatso' to describe a skinny person, and vice versa. 


 The book does not neglect Harald's life though. We see him as a fifteen year old warrior fighting beside his half-brother. Then we see his long journey through 'Rus' (modern Russia), all the way to the court of the Byzantine Emperor. He becomes a general and head of the Emperor's Varangian Guard. Varangian was the Byzantine word for the Northmen. We follow his return to Norway and the throne, to his twenty-year war to conquer Denmark. He finally falls at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, the first and sometimes overlooked  invasion of England in 1066.


 The book goes into incredible depth about Harald and the age before and during his life. I can easily recommend it to anyone who wants to really find out about the history of the Viking Age. Thank you Casemate Publishers for letting me review this needed and timely book.


Robert

Book: God's Viking:  Harald Hardrada the Life and Times of the Last Great Viking

Author: Nic Fields

Publisher: Pen & Sword

Distributor: Casemate Publishers




Rome, Blood & Power Reform, Murder and Popular Politics in the Late Republic 70 - 27 BC Gareth C Sampson ...

Rome, Blood & Power: Reform, Murder and Popular Politics in the Late Republic 70 - 27 BC by Gareth C Sampson Rome, Blood & Power: Reform, Murder and Popular Politics in the Late Republic 70 - 27 BC by Gareth C Sampson

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Pen & Sword






Rome, Blood & Power

Reform, Murder and Popular Politics in the Late Republic 70 - 27 BC

Gareth C Sampson






 
 This book shows the history of Rome and the political machinations of the years 70-27 B.C. The first part of the book goes back in time to the Civil War between Marius and Sulla. This is so the reader is grounded in the massive political upheavals that had occurred before 70 B.C. The book's timeline includes the last throes of the Roman Republic through the first years of the Empire.

 The cover shows us four of the main players in this tragedy: Pompey, Crassus, Caesar, and Octavian. This volume is a continuation of the author's Rome, Blood & Politics. That book showed the political history of Rome from the Gracchi brothers to the Civil War between Marius and Sulla, and the reforms of the latter.

 This book shows the deals that went on behind the scenes and the open jockeying for position by the different factions in Rome, until it just became a power play by Octavian to destroy the Republic in all but name only. We see how Sulla's reforms that were meant to strengthen the Senate and Republic were just pushed aside by these newer men eager to write their names in the history of Rome.

 Then the book goes into the history leading up to the First Triumvirate of Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus. This three way power play continued until Crassus's death in Parthia. Then both Caesar and Pompey fought over whether the Republic would remain intact or a strong man (Caesar), would become emperor without a crown. After Pompey's defeat and then the assassination of Caesar, the book shows us the political history behind the Second Triumvirate of Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus. Then we go to the ousting of Lepidus from his position and the final showdown between Octavian and Antony.

 The author ends the book with some good information, but it is still a bit odd compared to most. The first appendix lists the murdered politicians by year. The second appendix gives a list of the Tribunes that served each year.

  I can easily recommended this book, and certainly both, for anyone who has any interest in the history of the period. Thank you Casemate for letting me review this excellent addition to Rome's history.


Robert

Publisher: Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323-281 B.C.  Volume II: Battles & Tactics by Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts ...

The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323-281 B.C. Volume II: Battles & Tactics by Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323-281 B.C. Volume II: Battles & Tactics by Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Pen & Sword




The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323-281 B.C. 

Volume II: Battles & Tactics

by

Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts








 Alexander's last words were recorded in several different versions. One of them was that he wished he could see his 'funeral games'; another version says he left his empire "to the strongest". If he did actually say either, it was pretty astute of him. The 'funeral games' and the fight for primacy took up the next four decades. The wars after Alexander's death occupied the Hellenistic World until the end of the Hellenistic Age. The main antagonist of these wars was Antigonus Monophthalmus (the one-eyed). According to Plutarch he was the "oldest and greatest" of the Diadochi (Successors). The wars and battles continued for so many years because a few of the Diadochi were trying to be the last one standing, and conquering the entire kingdom that Alexander had held at his death.

  This book is Volume II in the series. The first volume dealt with Wars of the Diadochi. This volume deals with their battles and the tactics used in them. The greatest battle of the age and one of the largest battles in Ancient History is described here. That would be the Battle of Ipsus. It was fought in 301 B.C. On one side you had Antigonus, Demetrius, and Pyrrhus. The other side was populated by troops from all of the other Diadochi. Seleuces was there along with his 400 elephants! Lysimachus was also present on the field. Ipsus ended the Antigonid dream of reuniting the empire. Antigonus was killed and Demetrius was forced to flee. 

 Just as in Volume I, the information in this book is priceless for both the history lover and wargamer. To see how exactly the great generals of the time used their elephants, phalanxes, and cavalry in battle is eye opening, and sometimes different then what we think their use was. Many of us also believe that when an ancient battle was being lost there was not much a general at the time could do about it. The fact that Antigonus twice pulled his irons from the fire and came up with victories puts paid on that score. 

 Thank you Casemate Publishers, for letting me review this great second volume. No one with an interest of the military history of the period should be without the set.

Robert

Book: The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323-281 B.C. : Volume II Battles & Tactics
Authors: Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

Hitler's Paratroopers in Normandy The German II Parachute Corps in The Battle For France,1944 by Gilberto Villahermos...

Hitler's Paratroopers in Normandy: The German II Parachute Corps in The Battle for France,1944 by Gilberto Villahermosa Hitler's Paratroopers in Normandy: The German II Parachute Corps in The Battle for France,1944 by Gilberto Villahermosa

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Pen & Sword




Hitler's Paratroopers in Normandy

The German II Parachute Corps in The Battle For France,1944

by

Gilberto Villahermosa





 To Hitler, the day of the Fallschirmjäger ended with the invasion of Crete. They had suffered so many casualties during their successful attack that it was almost a Pyrrhic victory. At the siege of Stalingrad the Luftwaffe's airlift capacity was bled dry of pilots and planes. So even had Hitler changed his mind about the Fallschirmjäger, it wouldn't have mattered. Their wings were clipped. However, the Fallschirmjäger's usefulness was not over. They were some of the most highly trained soldiers in the Third Reich. They would continue to win laurels all over Europe as Fire Brigade soldiers, closing holes in the lines and stopping various Allied offensives in their tracks. When you think of the Fallschirmjäger in the infantry role, you usually think of their defense of Monte Cassino. This book shows how they were deeply involved with the defense of Normandy.

 The story of the Fallschirmjäger in Normandy is a story of dedicated soldiers who belonged to very different units as far as their training and abilities are concerned. The 3rd Parachute Division was the cream of the crop as far as both Fallschirmjäger and Infantry Divisions. It was one of the very few infantry Divisions that the German General Staff listed as well equipped and strong enough for offensive operations; let that sink in. According to Allied interrogation they believed their commander Generalleutnant Schimpf 'a god'. The division had its complete complement of soldiers and was the fourth strongest division in Normandy, behind three SS Panzer Divisions. The 5th Parachute Division was another story. It was made up of recruits, most who didn't have jump training, and not anywhere near its established amount of weaponry. The 6th Parachute Regiment of the 2nd Paratroop Division also was well thought of and fought in Normandy. Elements of the 6th Parachute Division also fought in Normandy.

 All of these units were part of the II Parachute Corps. The book tells the story of the II Parachute Corps, and its battles in Normandy to stem the Allied tide. The author goes through the Corps conception and birth. Not only is this a book about the Normandy battles, but it is also a reference book on the training and composition of not only the II Parachute Corps, but also the disparate units under its command.

 The 2nd Parachute Division, or some of it, was tasked with defending Brest under Generalleutnant Hermann Bernhard Ramcke. Ramcke was one of only twenty-seven men in the armed forces who were awarded The Knights Cross, with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds. The defense of Brest was considered of the highest importance, because the Allies desperately needed a port to use in Northern France. The only problem for the 2nd Parachute Division was after its mauling in Russia, the division was badly in need of men and supplies. An American assessment of its strength put it at 35% of its full complement. Ironically, for the Allies, the fight to conquer Brest so totally destroyed the city that it was unusable as a port. In fact, after the war, French authorities were even considering not bothering to rebuild the city where it was. The author shows us all of this desperate fighting.

 For the author's ability to help you visualize the Normandy battles the book is worth its weight. When you add in the incredible amount of detail that you will learn about the Fallschirmjäger the book is a steal. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Thank you Casemate Publishers and Pen andSword for allowing me to review this wonderful book.

Robert

Publisher: Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

Carthage's Other Wars Carthaginian Warfare Outside The 'Punic Wars' Against Rome by Dexter Hoyos ...

Carthage's Other Wars Carthaginian Warfare Outside The 'Punic Wars' Againt Rome by Dexter Hoyos Carthage's Other Wars Carthaginian Warfare Outside The 'Punic Wars' Againt Rome by Dexter Hoyos

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Pen & Sword




Carthage's Other Wars

Carthaginian Warfare Outside The 'Punic Wars' Against Rome

by

Dexter Hoyos





 This book is a treasure trove of information, not only about Carthage's 'other wars', but about the city and its government etc. The author has debunked some very long held ideas we have about Carthage and its history, especially its history of warfare. We envision Carthage as the British Empire of its time, with no one really able to deal with its naval supremacy. To quote the author:

 "Carthage's prowess at sea was in fact less accomplished than usually assumed by either ancients or moderns. For lengthy periods, it did not fight naval wars even if it kept up naval patrols around Libya's coast. The potential naval operations along Italy's coasts which its two early treaties with Rome envisaged, were, it seems, theoretical: none is recorded in practice. Although the Greeks and Romans did tend to view Carthage - retrospectively - as the western Mediterranean's great naval power, when wars came its fleets seldom had unmatched superiority over their rivals. Nor did a sea battle decide any of its non-Roman wars, unlike the Battle of the Aegates in 241 which lost its first war against Rome and, with it, western Sicily."

 The story of Carthage's wars, even before the Romans, seems to give us a list of chapters from Plutarch's Lives. Dionysius, Timoleon, Dion, Agathocles, and Pyrrhus, among others, all appear in the story of Carthage's attempts to keep its grip on western Sicily. The author shows that really only two times was Carthage the instigator in an attack on the Greeks in their conclave in Sicily. 

 The only problem we have following the history of Carthage deals with nomenclature. The amount of Hannos, Magos, and Hannibals strewn throughout the years of Carthage's history is a bit daunting. One wishes that they had a larger pool of names to choose from for their leaders. 

 This is a book that anyone who has any interest in the time period should possess. The author wipes away the years in between us, to show us exactly what happened and why. The amount of revolts and fighting with the indigenous Libyans was an eye opener for me. The book shows that the history of the western Mediterranean that we thought we knew is not correct at all. The area never had the settled spheres of influence that looks so neatly arranged on maps. The history was much more vibrant and changing than we imagined. Thank you Pen & Sword and Casemate Publishers for the chance to review this very enlightening book.

Robert

Author: Dexter Hoyos
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC - AD 30 by Gabriele Esposito      Megas Alexandros is dead, more...

Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC - AD 30 by Gabriele Esposito Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC - AD 30 by Gabriele Esposito

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Pen & Sword




Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC - AD 30

by

Gabriele Esposito




  


  Megas Alexandros is dead, more then likely poisoned by one or more of his closest generals. Alexander had put to death a good number of his father's old guard and the ones that were left were feeling very insecure. There had also been several plots on Alexander's life. It is possible that Alexander died a natural death, but even so the Macedonian generals probably did not shed many tears.

 This book describes probably my favorite period of history: the Age of the Diadochi (Successors) of Alexander. It is the time from Alexander's death to the Roman conquest of the Hellenistic States. This was the age of the Macedonian Phalanx. This time period also saw the first large use of elephants in war outside of the Indian Peninsula.

 The book starts with the father of Alexander, Phillip II, forming Macedon into a military state, and the reforms that he put into place to make the Macedonian Army the greatest in the known world. It then goes into the story of Alexander and how he used the army to conquer a large chunk of the that world. From there it goes into the history of the Wars of the Diadochi, often referred to as Alexander's Funeral Games. The names of the various contenders, Antigonus, Cassander, and Ptolemy are well known to most people. This takes up the first third of the book.

 The next part of the book goes into the history and the Armies of the different monarchies that evolved from Alexander's Empire. The Antigonid (Macedonia), Seleucid (Asian), and Ptolemaic (Egypt) monarchies' Armies are gone into in detail. All of the various wars between the realms are also described in the book. Their final fall at the hands of Rome are also discussed. The smaller nations such as Pontus and its king, Mithridates the Great, are gone into by the author. Mithridates' sole claim to fame is being the mole for many years in a Roman version of whack-a-mole.

 The book is adequately supplied with maps. The book's greatest asset is that is liberally filled with color photographs of all of the different troops that were used in the various armies. These are a treasure trove for miniature gamers. The different arms and armor of the period are reproduced as well. As a primer for the history of the times it is an excellent book. For the wargamer it serves as a valuable resource. Thank you Casemate Publishers for letting me review this book.

Robert

Publisher: Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers



Great naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World by Owen Rees   Once again I am proud to review a Pen & Sword r...

Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World by Owen Rees Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World by Owen Rees

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Pen & Sword


by








 Once again I am proud to review a Pen & Sword release. The book shows us thirteen naval battles from The Battle of Lade in 494 BC to The Battle of Cnidus in 394 BC. The author has picked a very interesting group of battles to depict. There were, in actuality, so many to choose from that he mentions he chose only the ones that have the most information available to historians.

 The author's introduction is unusual in that he does not just explain why he wrote the book, but gives the reader a grounding in Grecian naval warfare. It is a short, but very informative lesson. What exactly was a trireme, how were the rowers set up, and what was each bank of them called? These and more are answered in the introduction. He also dips our toes in the water of their tactics. Even the earliest battles show how sophisticated the Greeks had become in naval warfare. More than 1500 years later some European naval battles were no more than a land battle at sea, with ships lashed together to make to make a pseudo island to fight on.

 The battles start at the Persian Wars, where Persia was invading Greece. They continue through the Archidamian and Ionian  (usually called the Decelean War by scholars, but the author points out that all of the action took place in Ionia)Wars. The familiar names are all here: Conon, Lysander, and of course Alcibiades. The Greek strategy and tactics of the period are still studied today. Many of the famous ancient historians are quoted in the book. The author attempts (I think successfully) to make sense of these military actions from the sometime very skimpy sources.

 The duel between Alcibiades and Lysander are the most interesting parts of the book in my opinion. The author shows that Persian money was the only reason that Sparta was able to keep fighting at the end of the Peloponnesian War.

 All in all, this is a great book to add to your collection. The maps, which are a little Spartan (sorry), do help. It would have been nice to see more of them. Mr. Rees, soon to be Dr. Rees, does an excellent job of sweeping away the cobwebs of 2500 years. Thank you Casemate Publishers for allowing me to review this book.

Robert 

Author: Owen Rees
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

Antipater's Dynasty Alexander the Great's Regent and his Successors by John D Grainger    Antipater...

Antipater's Dynasty: Alexander the Great's Regent and his Successors by John D. Grainger Antipater's Dynasty: Alexander the Great's Regent and his Successors by John D. Grainger

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  Antipater, Parmenion, and Antigonos belonged to an earlier generation than Alexander. All three were contemporaries of Alexander's father Phillip II. Antipater was to be in charge of Macedon while Phillip II invaded the Persian Empire. Parmenion was actually in now a days Turkey acting as the first invasion force and intelligence gathering mission. Antipater lived longer than Alexander, and was one of the few Successors that remained true to Alexander's heirs. It has been thought by some historians that Alexander was planning on killing Antipater had he lived. The other story told is that Antipater had Alexander killed by poison brought to Babylon by his son Kassander.

 So, this is the story of both Antipater and his children and grandchildren, etc. The author, John D. Grainger, is one of my favorites. In this book, along with his others, he is able to take events from more than 2000 years ago and make sense of them. The first part of the book deals with Antipater and his up and down in his relationship with Alexander. As Alexander aged, his thirst for blood increased exponentially. For Antipater to have even lived to see Alexander's death was quite an accomplishment.

 Strange as it seems, Antipater did not make his son Kassander his heir. He appointed Polyperchon to that role. Unfortunately this meant much misery for Greece. His daughters' marriages only helped to break apart the Macedonian Empire into the separate Hellenistic Kingdoms. Kassander's supposedly obsessive hatred of Alexander is also gone into by the author (the well known head-banging incident), although he doesn't take it as gospel. Kassander's sons' greed and inability to co-rule made certain of the family's fall from being rulers of Macedon. Antipater, through his daughter Phila's descendants (who was the mother of Antigonus Gonatus), ruled Macedon until the Roman conquest (Antigonids).

A great book by a great author on one of the most important of the Diadochi.

Robert

Book: Antipater's Dynasty: Alexander the Great's Regent and his Successors
Author: John D. Grainger
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

Napoleon's Commentaries on the Wars of Julius Caesar Translated by R. A. Maguire  The master does a critique o...

Napoleon's Commentaries on the Wars of Julius Caesar translated by R. A. Maguire Napoleon's Commentaries on the Wars of Julius Caesar translated by R. A. Maguire

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Translated by







 The master does a critique of an earlier great general. Napoleon's comments on the wars of Caesar are well worth the price of admission. The tidbits that are thrown in from his own time are just amazing. I have been reading military history about the Napoleonic era for about fifty years, and I have not seen these items. The other thing about this book is the absolutely staggering brilliance and memory of Napoleon's own mind. Remember, this book was dictated on St. Helena. There was no library or anything for Napoleon to consult except for his own encyclopedic brain. This next piece from the book will show what I am talking about. This is commenting on his own bridging of the Danube, and comparing it to Caesar's bridging of the Rhine. He then discusses the properties of cork for pontoons:

 "Cork weighs 16lb per cubic foot, water 70lb; each cubit foot of cork can carry 54lb. A pontoon made of solid cork would weigh 1,600lb, would displace 100' and could carry 5,400lb; taking away 1,000lb for the weight of the deck, made of planks and beams, leaves 4,400lb, which is enough to carry campaign vehicles. If this cork pontoon were divided into four floats, each of 25', they would each weigh 400lb and could carry 1,350lb. What advantages would come from a bridge made in this way! It could never be sunk by the impact of foreign bodies, or bad weather, or cannon fire. It would have the proper characteristics of a mechanism of war; durability, strength, and simplicity. A bridge so constructed could have one, two, three, four, five or even six floats supporting each pier, according to the number available, the width of the river and the requirement of the task. The wagons carrying the floats would no longer need to come to the river bank; such floats could be easily carried by hand for 200 or 400 yards."

 "Twelve pounds of cork can form a belt which fits under the armpits, which will keep a man afloat such that he can use his firearm. Several such belts, with the equivalent number of cork shoes and waterproof trousers, should be supplied to each company of pontoon sappers, to assist them in placing pontoons and to increase their security when working in the water on bridge construction."

  So you not only get Napoleon's comments about Caesar's campaigns, and what his enemies did, you are also treated to the master's musings on some of his own achievements. 

 Napoleon starkly dismisses the idea that Caesar planned to make himself a king. He states rightly that "The dignity of kings was a thing to be scorned and despised: the curule chair was higher than the throne. On what throne could Caesar have sat? On that of the kings of Rome, whose authority did not extend beyond the city's outskirts? On that of the barbarian kings of Asia, who had been defeated by men with names like Fabricius, Aemilius Paulus, Scipio, Metellus, Claudius and so on? That would have been a strange course to adopt. What? would Caesar really have sought stability, greatness and respect in the crown which had been worn by Philip, Perseus, Attalus, Mithridates, Pharnaces or Ptolemy, men whom the citizens had seen dragged along behind the triumphal chariot of their conquerors?"

 While it is true that most of these kings were not in Roman triumphs, I understand exactly where Napoleon is heading with this diatribe. Napoleon comments many times that Caesar was very lucky at times to escape some of his battles without losing. He makes it clear that he believed Caesar to be rash, sometimes to the extreme at times.

 The book itself is only 119 pages long including notes. This book was last published fully in 1836. It is high time it has seen the light of day. Thank you Pen & Sword.

Robert

Book : Napoleon's Commentaries on the Wars of Julius Caesar
Author: The Master
Translator: R. A. Maguire
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

Rise Of The Tang Dynasty The Reunification of China and the Military Response to the Steppe Nomads AD 581-626 by Julian Romane ...

Rise Of The Tang Dynasty by Julian Romane Rise Of The Tang Dynasty by Julian Romane

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The Reunification of China and the Military Response to the Steppe Nomads AD 581-626

by






 For those of you who have read my reviews, you know that I usually just skim the introductions. In this book however, there is one page before the introduction that was very enlightening. The page is titled 'Technical Issues'. The author explains that there are these two different methods of translating Chinese:

Wade-Giles
Pinyin

 The older Wade-Giles was used under the Kuomintang of Chiang Kai-shek ('Peanut' to 'Vinegar' Joe Stilwell). Under Mao, the different method of Pinyin was introduced. The author goes on to tell us that he uses Pinyin, and tries to use simpler English when translating. For instance, 'erudite scholar' could also be translated as 'accomplished scholar'. The writer goes onto state that "traditional China is an illusion. There are great literary traditions in China, along with great artistic, philosophical, and spiritual traditions, but there has never been a traditional China". The book continues to say that another impediment to our understanding is the fact that most Western commentators are uninterested and unknowing about military matters. This is from the land of Sun Tzu! The author continues to explain that his purpose is "to give a detailed picture of medieval Chinese warfare: to provide background to the structure of Chinese military development; and to illustrate how influences passed across the Eurasian 'World Island'".

 The book starts around 300 AD with the incredibly convoluted history of North and South China during the next few hundred years. Imagine ten different countries like England going through the Wars of the Roses at the same time. Dynasties change so fast that your head wants to spin. 

 It comes with eight color pages of personalities etc.. Unfortunately there are no maps at all to try and help the reader follow along. This is a list of some of the chapters:

 The House of Yang
 The Imperial State Weakens
 War for Guanzhong
 The House of Li
 Battles for the Heart of China
 Tang Victorious
 Imperial Consolidation
 Chronology of Chinese Dynasties (thank you)
 Chinese Military Handbooks
 Chinese Imperial Armies 

 These battles and campaigns for China include hundreds of thousands of troops. These dwarf the size of the armies in Europe until the 19th century. The author shows us that the horse lords of the Eastern Steppe were a constant problem to be dealt with.  We normally think of the Mongols, and possibly the Manchus, as the extent of the issue. There was a reason the Great Wall was built and maintained over a millennia.

 I have a great hole in my knowledge of history, and it involves the history of the Eastern Asian landmass. This book has helped to fill this void. I can easily recommend it to anyone who has an interest, or wants to develop one, in the history of China.

Robert

Author: Julian Romane
Publisher Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

A Naval History Of The Peloponnesian War by Marc G. Desantis   I love books, but once in awhile you will come ...

A Naval History of The Peloponnesian War by Marc G. Desantis A Naval History of The Peloponnesian War by Marc G. Desantis

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 I love books, but once in awhile you will come across a book like this that is very memorable. The Peloponnesian War was one of the seminal conflicts in the history of the Western World. It is hard for us to imagine, but Athens was able to bloody the nose of the Persian Empire. This is after the events of the last Persian invasion of Greece. In the process, she gained numerous allies in her fight against the Persians. Athens had a chance to lead, and did for a bit, a crusade against the Great Kings. Unfortunately in her hubris Athens started to look at her allies as conquered people belonging to an Athenian Empire. Without this, Sparta would never have been able to fight a war to 'free the Greeks' from Athenian despotism. In a nutshell, this is the cause of the war. There were many other smaller reasons that also made the Peloponnesian War seem inevitable. It might also have been possible that if the Greeks had not fought each other to exhaustion, that Macedon would still have remained a backwater. 

 This book is filled with everything a history lover would like to know about the era. From its in depth delving into the monetary cost and upkeep of the navies, to the actual tactics used by both sides during the war, it is all here. The actual history of the trireme is shown to the reader. The author also goes into the day to day maintenance of the ships; from why too dry ships were slower, to the Teredo Navalis (shipworm), it is in the book. How many talents Athens had on hand at the beginning of the war is shown. Then it is broken down to show how long this surplus would last under wartime conditions. On hand cash, is shown to be as important in warfare then as it is now. The reader will see how the massive funds, although dribbled out to Sparta, of the Persian Empire helped to tip the scales against Athens. 

 This war has had many books written about it. In actuality Thucydides, an Athenian general, wrote the first history of the war. The book we are looking at is one of the best on the subject, but also one of the best books about any war. As the author points out, Greece's coastline is actually longer than Italy's. So almost all of the fighting took place fifty miles or less near the Aegean or Ionian Seas. This was a well written and fascinating book on ancient warfare. From the physical problems that the rowers themselves endured (read for yourself), to how the Corinthians strengthened their bows, it is in this book. I am looking forward to reading more from the author.


Robert

Book: A Naval History of The Peloponnesian War
Author: Marc G. Desantis
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers
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